Is Autism accurately portrayed in “The Good Doctor”?

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In the show “The Good Doctor” they do accurately portray autism. There is no solid line when it comes to autism and whether or not someone qualifies as Autistic. Most all cases are different and in Shaun Murphy’s case he is on the lower end of the spectrum.

Why I chose to look into this is because when the show first aired there was a lot of controversies surrounding it. The main reason being that they had an actor playing an autistic character. Many people thought that there was no way that someone could accurately play that role, and if they did that it would be offensive to the Autism community. At first, I did not know what to think or who to agree with, but after watching just the first episode, I knew that they had the right intentions.

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With the fact that this was so controversial many people have been reviewing this show. Therefore there is a lot of content out there on this topic, and several other analyses have been done that concur with me on this point. For example, the site “Autism Speaks” wrote a review on this very same point “Freddie (Shaun) does well in his debut, showing several characteristics that can accompany an autism diagnosis. These characteristics include things such as social awkwardness, lack of eye contact, playing with his hands during stressful situations, etc. That last one is still something I do to this day as an adult who is on the autism spectrum. Freddie’s take will resonate with many in the community. It will be interesting to see how his character evolves moving forward into the season.” This statement aligns very well with my argument, not only that but this is from the national Autism Speaks website, a very well respected website that is the voice for the Autistic community.

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The narative of the show “The Good Doctor” is the journey of Autistic medical intern that is working to become a doctor. The show expresses the other struggles that Shaun has to face because of his Autism, the biggest problem being communication. Shaun had a difficult time even getting an internship at a hospital because of all of the judgment he faces, that was until they heard why he wanted to become a doctor. Shaun often has flashbacks to his traumatic childhood, but that is why Shaun wished to become a doctor, he saw his brother die right in front of him, and he couldn’t do anything to help. People hear Autism, and they instantly think the worst, they don’t give Shaun a chance because they don’t think someone who has Autism is capable of anything, let alone being a doctor. Throughout the seasons of the show Shaun never lets peoples opinions, or judgment keep him down, he always keeps going until he gets what he wants. The enigma of the show, or what makes people want to watch until the end is how Shaun is given an almost impossible medical task, and then solves it. Shaun illustrated the obstacle in his head by imagining the human body and thinking of ways he can fix it. Shaun does not feel emotions like the rest of us, he feels them differently and that is why he is so much more advanced when it comes to medicine because he has no bias or fear of judgment. He faces a lot of setbacks in the show, but he is slowly catching his dream of becoming a doctor.

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When it comes to the production of the show, they have many main cast members with the star being Freddie Highmore (Shaun Murphy), Antonia Thomas (Claire Brown), Nicholas Gonzalez (Neil Melendez), Fiona Gubelmann (Morgan Reznick), Richard Schiff (Dr. Glassman), Christina Chang (Audrey Lim). Those are just a few of the main characters in the show. The show takes place mostly in the hospital with a few scenes at the characters houses and around the city. So most of the episodes are bottle episodes or they are inexpensive to make because they take place in one location. The show does have a lot of special effects though because the show is based on operating on patients, and patient care.

“It was the most watched program during the third week of the season, edging  CBS’ The Big Bang Theory (17.9 million), “NCIS” (17.4 million) and NBC’s “This Is Us” (17.1 million) and  “Sunday Night Football”(16.2 million).”

https://deadline.com/2017/10/the-good-doctor-weekly-rankings-most-watched-program-ffirst-time-1202194643/

The show has sense gained a lot of viewers at the end of the latest season the show was at 13.41 million viewers.

When I began to analyze this show to find out whether or not the show was accurately representing Autism I asked myself some questions. What is the show doing to authenticate Freddie (Shaun) as Autistic? How does Shaun react when someone touches or hugs him? How do they show the way that Shaun thinks? What does someone knowledgeable about Autism think about the representation of Autism in this show?

For the first question, what is the show doing to authenticate Freddie (Shaun) as Autistic? Well, I found that the producers of the show along with the writers of the show researched Autism, and talked to a lot of professionals to try and make the show as authentic as they could.

How does Shaun react when someone touches or hugs him? Well, these scenarios happened very often in the episodes because Shaun often saved a lot of patients lives. When that happened, the families would be very grateful and excited, when they would rush to hug him he would seem to crawl out of his skin and sweat profusely. Shaun then would offer a fist bump; instead, this was his way of avoiding the most physical contact that he could.

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How do they show the way that Shaun thinks? Well, when Shaun went deep into thought, they would show a visual on the screen in 3D of what was going through his mind. Or when he had flashbacks, they would play the flashbacks on the screen. For example, when he was asked why he wanted to become a doctor, they played the flashback that Shaun had of how his brother died right in front of him. Another example would be when Shaun was in surgery, and something went wrong with the patient’s heart they showed a 3D image of how Shaun imagined the Human heart and all the valves to figure out the problem.

What does someone knowledgeable about Autism think about the representation of Autism in this show? For this I found a great quote from the Autism Speaks page from someone that is on the Autism specktrum themsleves.

“The Good Doctor does a fine job of navigating this razor’s edge. Freddie does well in his debut, showing several characteristics that can accompany an autism diagnosis. These characteristics include things such as social awkwardness, lack of eye contact, playing with his hands during stressful situations, etc. That last one is still something I do to this day as an adult who is on the autism spectrum. Freddie’s take will resonate with many in the community. It will be interesting to see how his character evolves moving forward into the season.”

https://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/my-review-good-doctor-adult-autism

All in all, this show does a great job of correctly showing Autism. I found many other reviews that agreed with the fact that the show accurately portrayed Autism. I looked at many different ways the show represents Shaun’s Autism, and I continued to find that they did it well. The show has strong actors, and actresses, that are a huge role in the growing success of the show. If the show keeps the creative and exciting narratives that it has so far, it could become as big as “Grays Anatomy” one day, and I hope that it does! The show is renewed for the third season, and as a major fan of the show, I will be awaiting the release of the new season!

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Judgement Post

The best way to measure a shows success I believe is through devoted audiences that watch the show each and every week. I believe that becuase if a person keeps up with a show at a certain time, at a certain day of the week the person must really like the show. Having a loyal fan base is a major sight of success becuase it takes a lot for someone to keep up with a show and take time out of their week just to stay up to date with a show. That is what real success looks like, and I think that goes to show the true success of a telivison show.

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“It’s emotion that moves the story forward. Highmore’s face and attitude. Schiff’s faith and moral weight. Thomas’ curiosity-generosity. That sets it apart from “House.”

https://www.metacritic.com/tv/the-good-doctor/critic-reviews

This quote was what one of the critics said about the first episode of “The Good Doctor” I honestly had never thought of the show in this way, but I agree with him. This is because Sean gets help from his coworkers because they have empathy for him. The same went for Dr. Glassmen, that is why he adopted him, and why he continues to help him in his adult life because he has empathy for him. To back up this idea again I added another review of the first episode of this show below.

“The show is both melodramatic and effective. The season premiere features flashbacks that show the horrific early life of Dr. Shaun Murphy, played by Freddie Highmore. We’re talking death and homelessness.”

https://www.mcall.com/entertainment/tv/mc-ent-good-doctor-abc-critics-20171012-story.html
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What I stated above is how this show has gained its success, that is because there are a lot of doctor shows out there but this one is different and that is becuase it is based on “how emotion drives the story forward”.

Of course, the reviews from professional critics are essential to the beginning of the success because that is how some people decide whether to watch the show or not. But that is only important for the start to the show’s success, because once people start to watch the show on a regular basis as I talked about above is how the show gains its real success.

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Analysis of The Good Doctor Season 1 episode 7

To properly analyze this episode I watched it several times, six times to be exact, and after the second time, I realized something that I had not the first time. What I noticed was that the whole episode was about peoples childhoods and how their parents treated them. The show started with Shawn staring at a boy who had come into the ER and who was frantically fighting off the doctors. Shawn quickly figured out that the boy had autism just like he does, and the doctors thought that the boy was psychotic; but Shawn promptly showed them that he was not, he was just merely autistic. When the boy’s parents arrived, they were terrified for him but very put at back that there sons doctor had autism as well.
They did not say anything about it at first, but due to the parent’s facial expressions and their body language, you could tell they had a problem with it. Shawn proved to be the only one that could connect with the boy because he understood him. One of the main reasons why I love watching this show is because of Shawn; it is incredible to see (even if it is not real) a doctor with autism. It is very intriguing to watch the way he interacts with the patients and to see the problems he faces and how he overcomes them from his point of view.

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“If a life skills coach can’t select a complimenting wardrobe, they lack life skills.”

“If a life skills coach can’t select a complimenting wardrobe, they lack life skills.”

Another thing that I noticed after watching this episode many times is that the show uses a lot of elements of older episodes, they reveal them in a new narrative in each of the episodes. They do this a lot with Shawn and his childhood. But getting back to the narrative of this episode Shawn’s patient gets worse and has a seizure after that Shawn figures out what exactly is wrong with him. When the doctors get together and tell the boys parents that their son needs surgery that is when the parents stop being silent about their discomfort with Shawn; they thank Shawn for all of his help but tell the doctors that they will not let Shawn operate on their son.

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Shawn has gone through a lot of people doubting him, but I think that his disorder helps him with this because he does not feel emotions the same way as everyone else does so it never sets him back.
One of the other doctors stands up for him and tells the parents that if they do not want Shawn, they will have to go to another hospital. Before the parents can do so, their autistic kid tells them no and that he wants Shawn to operate on him. After watching this scene several times, I noticed that the parents started to see their son as an adult, and began to let him make more decisions for himself.
The organization of this show is impressive, during an episode you may see three different peoples narratives but they organize the scenes so well that they overlap correctly making the show interesting from the start to the end. Not only that but when the show ends it usually end with a cliffhanger making you very excited for the next episode to come out, as well as the fact that after each show they show previews for the next episode making you want to see the next episode so bad!

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When it comes to the demographics of this episode well, I would say that their target market is women because most of the commercials are for makeup and hair products. They also target mothers because most of the ads have to do with kids products and toys.
When it comes to diversity of the show they have all kinds of diversty; they have doctors who are Asian, Hispanic, White, Black, and the star of the show is autistic. The show touches on so many different controversial topics it is overwhelming to try and discuss them all. The show is very complicated when you break it all down, but when you are watching it, you do not realize just how much is going on. Although the show remains to be very controversial because they have an actor playing an autistic mans role; The show is still very successful and is renewing for a third season, and I hope it continues to do well because I find each episode more interesting than the last.

Representation of Reality

When looking at how class is represented in this show I first thought about how the show is mainly about the medical interns, and how they always have to take orders from their superiors to keep their job. The idea of class in this show on screen is fundamental and is held to a high standard, as well as the fact that they are all doctors, so they all live like the upper-class community. As far as the representation of class off screen this show is aimed towards middle to low-class audiences because it shows how people in the high class live and how there work life is.

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When it comes to Race well, this show is very diverse as far as the main characters well the main character is white with autism, another is a black female, another is Hispanic, and the other is a white female. The show has many different people from very different cultural backgrounds, and although these people face many different obstacles almost all of them happen regardless of there race. The only real instances that race has a factor on in the show is with the patients, in one case this older gentleman will not let the black women touch him because of her race, he was a very old fashioned man. She eventually saves his life regardless of that, and she then explains what she did to save his life, and he has a change of heart and apologizes for his racism.
Off screen I do not believe that they have an intended race for the shows target market, I think that if they did have one, it would probably be a white woman in there early 20’s. Also, I think that why they have so much diversity on the show is because that is what the new social norm is, and when shows do not have enough diversity they are often scrutinized and the show probably did not want to have to face that so loaded the show with diversity, and maybe that is a reason as to why the show has continued, and why people like it so much.

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Looking into gender representation on this show well again like diversity they have a broad representation of gender, they have women in power, they have women who are leaders, and vice versa. As far as off screen I feel that this show is mainly geared towards women; because the people that I have personally talked to about the show talk about how their significant others (boyfriends and other guy friends) do not like the show because it is drama based and has a lot to do with relationships. A lot of people compare it to Greys Anatomy, which is a very popular doctor show that most men do not like. Greys Anatomy has given the doctor shows a certain stigma that all doctor shows are filled with drama and that they are made for women. So I think that the stigma has affected all doctor shows and has steered men away from them.

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Analyzing season 1 episode 3

This episode like the first two starts with a flashback from Shawn’s childhood, showing the traumatic event of his bunny dying because his dad throws it against the wall. Then the episode shows how Shawn’s autism affects his job when the loud helicopter makes Shawn freeze. Then the episode shows how Shawn is thinking again by explaining how he is thinking with a visual diagram of how his mind is taking apart the helicopter.
Shawn and his coworker then take the helicopter to get a liver for a dying patient; they go through a lot of trouble getting the liver back to the hospital which gives Shawn more horrific flashbacks to his childhood. When they get the liver back to the hospital, Shawn has difficulty connecting with his coworker because of his disability. She later finds out that she can connect with him by giving him space, and eliminating distractions to help him communicate what he is feeling. This will then be key for Shawn because he has someone in the hospital on his side who can help him when he faces troubles communicating and getting across his ideas.
The enigma I noticed my self doing in this episode was when Shawn’s coworker was trying to figure out how to communicate with him. I found myself doing the same thing I was trying to figure out the best way to communicate with him; I was trying to think of the different things that I would try with him to get across to him effectively.

Another enigma that I noticed was that when the patient was waiting for the hospital boards approval for the surgery; I was guessing what decision the board would come to before they came to it and whether or not the patient would live or die after the surgery.
The show used a lot of action codes mainly with Shawn. Anytime that Shawn was in surgery and the doctors were talking in medical terms they would show how he was thinking with diagrams; therefore using action code by showing the viewers what they meant but also hiding that they were doing so with Shawn.

What makes the show “The Good Doctor” worth studying?

Well, I have already binge-watched all of the episodes that are out for this show because I found it so fascinating, mainly because I do not know a lot about people with autism, and had no clue that they were capable of being a doctor.

When I watched the first episode I was shocked at how much detail that the creator put into the show, they showed images on the screen of what exactly was going through Shawn’s (the autistic doctor) head, they showed how he was problem-solving visually in his head, how he was thinking about an image of the anatomy of the body in order to help save the dying person.

Not only that but the fact that they use certain sound effects when Shawn is thinking, and how they draw arrows on the screen to show where his mind is going, and how they point the camera to the perspective that Shawn is facing. These may all seem like little things but in reality this just goes to show how when they created this show they wanted to get everything right, they wanted to put in the most detail that they could in order to show the audience exactly how Shawn was thinking and feeling.

This is what made me want to analyze the show, after seeing how much detail was being put into the show to try and show how autistic people think and feel was very eye-catching and interesting, I wanted to try and learn more about the little details that they put into the show that I had not noticed before.

After I had watched a couple of episodes I noticed that people were starting to talk about the show, people were outraged that the actor in the show was not actually autistic. But then I started to think to myself well why does that matter actors are meant to act out whatever role they are given, whether that be a Nero surgeon or a homeless man. So, in my opinion, I did not see a problem with it, especially after seeing how much detail they were putting into the show about Shawn, about his struggles doing everyday tasks, and then showing how he was managing to become a doctor.